Interview: Survivor Second Chance nominee Kelley Wentworth

You may remember Kelley Wentworth from San Juan del Sur. Or you may not. Despite being our preseason pick to win that season, Kelley became a target after the tribe swap and was sent home pre-merge. To make matters worse, she wasn’t even allowed to interact with the fans for most of her season thanks to a ridiculous social media ban imposed by the show. But she has since become a prominent member of the Survivor community, and she spoke to Emma about her experiences with the show and her prospects on Second Chance.

Go here to vote for Kelley for Survivor: Second Chance.

There’s a few of you, but at what point do you think you’ll be attacked as a pre-merge boot? I know that happened in Miss Survivor a lot.

*laughs* Yeah, you know what? That hasn’t really come up because I think there are some other pre-merge people on the list. I think the main thing is that people see as, “Oh, she’s really boring,” or “She’s bland, why does she deserve a second chance?” just because of the edit I had on my season. So I think that’s the biggest obstacle, but I don’t think the pre-merge thing will really come into play too much, I hope.

I will skip ahead, because that actually leads into one of my other questions about how you got kind of a light edit last time, but you’ve cultivated a pretty good fan base, I’d say…


…due to your social media presence and personality. Do you think it’s going to be distracting wanting to get a bigger edit to show who you actually are, while at the same time you’re still wanting to play a good game?

I think the thing is just… you know one of my mistakes last time was a fear of being portrayed a certain way, or like sometimes a strong woman is seen as a bitch or something, if you say the wrong thing. There have been people who have been portrayed that way in the past. So I think I was a little timid to be completely honest about how I was feeling about certain people… for example, Drew. It was very obvious I didn’t like him and you saw that in a lot of my faces and some of the things I said, but this time I’m going to be super honest with the cameras. I don’t think I’m a boring bland person and it’s very unfortunate that people see me that way because of five episodes of a television show, but I don’t want it to get in the way. I’m going to be honest with the cameras and tell them how I feel, but at the end of the day, the point is to win a million dollars. So I don’t want to be a character instead of a winner, I want to be a winner and a character.

Right. I can’t imagine why you would have struggled dealing with Drew…

No! I mean you know, he’s basically a bad ass. I think if you go back and watch that episode, my face so many times I’m just like, “I’m so done with this guy.” And I’m talking about him with the fishing gear and I just could not take it any longer.

I will say that is where I became a Kelley fan.

*laughs* Thanks!

Because seeing the facial reactions… I would have had a hard time with that as well. Speaking of Drew…

Oh god.

Which potential contestant seems most likely to talk about wanting to vote you out while standing four feet in front of you?

*laughs* Wow, that was crazy right?

Epic side eye.
Epic side eye.

That was incredible. The editing in that entire episode was just fantastic.

Yeah, and that was not editing. I tell people, they send me messages that are like, “Was that edited?” No. He was standing right there and that was the face I was giving him. I could not believe it. I was like, “This guy is so stupid!” It was crazy.

You’re a fan, do you think there are any people similar to Drew on this list?

Oh, are there any similar people? No, looking at the list I think it’s a really solid cast. I think however the votes shake out and whoever gets on the island it’s going to be a fun season. And any time you have all returnees, I mean, people go hard. Right? Like everyone wants to make moves from day one so I don’t think we’re going to have a boring season. I think I would be excited to see anybody on the list out there. I don’t think we have any “douchey” characters this season, so I’m excited!

So what do you think will be a greater benefit to you: not having to play with a family member or not having to play with a group of people who have never seen Survivor?

Oh my gosh! What a tough choice. Okay, the family member thing is always going to be at the top of my list, and I have been getting some flack because people are like, “Don’t blame your dad for your game!” and I’m like, I’m not blaming my dad for my game or me going out of the game. I’ve said that a hundred times, so people just aren’t listening to me. What I said is that playing with a loved one, no matter who you are, is very difficult because it just adds in an additional layer of having to think about another person. And whether you say you will or say you won’t, when you’re out there on that island you have to! Because you’re thinking about the merge, you’re thinking about the swap, you’re thinking about the end game, you’re thinking about, not only do I have a partner, but other people are tied to a loved one and they’re probably not going to vote them out over me. It’s just so difficult! You can’t think for yourself. So I think playing with a loved one is the hardest thing, and I’m so excited for the chance to just play by myself. I’m all in it for Kelley, that’s it!

Kelley hugs Dale goodbye
“Thanks, Dad.”

On sort of a similar note, there’s a lot of old school players on this list. And not just a couple people from your season, but also the original Blood vs. Water. So who do you think has the bigger disadvantage, the old school contestants or Blood vs. Water? Because both of those games are very different from a modern Survivor game, you have different things that you’re dealing with.

Well, I think the people who had to play on Blood vs. Water, we still were on current seasons and we still had players who were very aware of…well, maybe not on mine, but there were some players who were more aware of the “new school” kind of game. I think that anyone who played on a Blood vs. Water will still be aware and down with the play. I think that the old schoolers are going to have to adapt very quickly because, let’s just say someone that played in season one or season two, the game is so different now, and it’s not as much about survival as it is about lying, cheating, stealing, winning. It’s just so much more cutthroat, I think. So I think the old schoolers will have to adapt very quickly.

And one of those old schoolers has a very similar name, as I’m sure you noticed.

I hadn’t noticed! I don’t know who you’re talking about. (Editor’s note: It’s Jeff Varner.)

My old roommate and I have the same first name and last initial, so I totally know where you’re coming from.

You get it.

So if you’re on the same tribe, who’s going to wear purple? Are you going to have to dye a streak in your hair?

I’m raising my hand right now to not be Purple Kelley in this equation. I’ll be called anything! It’s going to be strange because I thought, “Well, I can tell Jeff that he can call me Wentworth, but it’s still so similar to Wiglesworth. Like, one of us will have to be Kelly, and one of us will have to be our last name. But I am raising my hand right now to not be Purple Kelley.

Why yes. Yes I did.
Why yes. Yes I did.

Yeah, unfortunately you can’t pronounce the extra ‘e’.

I know right? *sings* K-E-L-L-E-Y! He can just say that at every challenge, just spell it out.

I’ve seen people trying to differentiate while talking about their votes and they’re saying Kelly W. and I’m like, “That doesn’t help!”

Yeah, it doesn’t help! And people tag me and say “Voted for Kelly!” and I’m like, “Wait, you spelled my name wrong. So did you vote for Kelly Wiglesworth or did you vote for me?” and they say “I voted for you!” and I’m like, “Okay, well this is very confusing. I appreciate your vote, but just stick to Wentworth.” I think it would be a little easier. Maybe? Please?

And if you pull off being Wentworth, you’ll be — as far as I remember — only the second woman who gets the last name treatment by Probst, after Sarah Dawson, who I think a lot of us just thought was named Dawson because I think it’s just what she goes by.

I might be one of those people, yes.

But if you follow in that trend, does that mean if you unfortunately get voted off, are you going to try to kiss Probst?

*laughing* Oh wow, this is very interesting. Man. You know, you caught me with a tough question, I hadn’t thought about this. Maybe I’ll have to do something different so I’m not like someone else.

It’s funny because usually the men he calls by the last names are probably the ones he wants to kiss, but with the women it goes the other way.

*laughing* Yes! … I have no comment on this.

Kelley bad ass challenge
Kelley goes Beast Mode

I get it, you’ve gotta play the politics.

But I’m sure everyone knows how I feel.

Somewhat famously or infamously with your season, it was kind of overshadowed with a lot of talking about little girls holding bowls of rice, hyping up season 30 with people talking about how great it was going to be. So now season 30 a) kind of has disappointed some people with all the ugliness and b) they announced this season 31 stuff in the middle. So are you enjoying the payback of them now getting overshadowed?

Well, I don’t like to talk about the San Juan del Sur finale too often because most of us were snubbed. Even the winner, Natalie didn’t get a ton of airtime talking about her win and her strategy to get there. So do I feel good though, because now season 31 is kind of overshadowing the end of 30? I don’t know. I feel really badly for Tyler, to be honest, because his boot episode… I barely even watched the tribal council because my social media was blowing up and I was with a group of people. So I feel badly, because everyone has their story and it deserves to be told and I feel like his was definitely overshadowed by the announcement. I don’t know if it feels good, like I’m getting redemption. I kind of feel bad for us and I feel bad for them.

You’re a fan, as you’ve famously seen every episode of Survivor

I am, I have.

Not trying to spoil any sort of alliances you’re making, not about alliances.

Pre-game alliances are not happening.

Exactly. I think we saw how that worked for Aras. So just as a fan from a pure fan perspective, are there any people that you’re particularly excited to see come back?

Well, I’ve said this from the beginning, that I do find it very interesting that there are people from really early seasons. Only because again, the game has changed so much. So if I were just at home, watching it on my screen, I would be interested to see how these new schoolers play with the old schoolers, how do the old schoolers fit in? Who ends up kind of running the game, because there always ends up being a couple people that are the strong people of the season so I just think it would be cool to see some of those old school people out there and how they adapt. Anyone in particular? I mean, going back to Kelly Wiglesworth, she was way back in season one! Like, that’s insane! It would be crazy to see her out there. I don’t really have anyone else in particular. There are a lot of big personalities, so it’s going to be a fun season.

Obviously you’re really excited to potentially go back, but what are you least looking forward to? Like, “Oh man, I’m excited to go back except ______ is going to suck.”

I think one of the worst things is just how much time you have out there. Like to just sit and do nothing. You just end up laying there all day and having the same conversations over and over. Just the boredom, it can get to you. So I’m definitely not looking forward to that.

Kelley voted off
Another thing that would suck.

We sort of touched on this a little before, that you’ve seen every episode. And there’s other extreme super fans who are in contention to be on the season as well. In your first season you were targeted because you’ve seen every episode and I mean, how could someone on Survivor have seen every episode? That’s insane!

Oh my God, don’t remind me.

So you know the way that, say for example this season Mike could use Joe as a shield. No one’s targeting Mike because Joe’s around. Do you feel like if Max and/or Shirin make it on, that they can be kind of your super fan shield because no one’s going to notice you in that context?

I want to define super fan. Here’s the thing, I have seen every season and every episode, of course. I have not gone back and watched every season. I cannot even name every winner, there’s probably some I’m going to forget. I definitely couldn’t put the seasons in the order that they aired. So yes, although I’m a huge fan of the show, I don’t think people should go in thinking, “Oh God, Kelley knows every blindside and every idol found.” That’s just not the case. I mean, I’m a huge fan and I love it and I’ve seen every season. But like, I’m kind of annoyed that Drew targeted me like, “Oh she’s a super fan that knows everything!” and it’s like, well yeah I’m a fan, and other people were too, but I certainly did not know astrological signs or the boot order of China or I don’t know, Pearl Islands, whatever. So I don’t know if I’m going to use people… I think I’m just going to feel them out, see what people are talking about, and go from there.

Have you been studying up at all against any of the people you might be up against?

You raise a good point. Initially, before this all came out, I was like, “Okay, I should go back and watch some seasons, I should check out my competition,” but the bottom line is you don’t know who’s going to be out there. There are people on this list who are going to make it and there are people who aren’t going to make it. And it’s just a waste of time for me to be trying to study every person and their play because I don’t know if people are going to change their game. There’s reasons that we all want a second chance, and I guarantee there are a few people who are going to go out and play the exact same game. Me studying someone’s game, it probably doesn’t even matter. You should know who these people are and probably have an idea of how they played the first time, but there’s so much other stuff. This campaigning is taking so much out of me, and I’m also working out and doing all these other things you have to do to prepare in case you go. I just can’t spend any more time worrying about who’s going to make it or not make it. I’m just going to deal with it when I get out there.

So one last question before your final thoughts: If your friend Jeremy makes it out there, are you going to be able to resist rubbing Tom Brady’s suspension — because this is breaking news — rubbing that in his face?

*laughs* That’s going to be so good. But the problem is that if I say that to him, he’ll just remind me that the Patriots won the Superbowl and it’s like, what more can I say?

Kelley Seahawks
So we’re…not…giving the ball to Marshawn here?

You could say you know, perhaps that’s why they won? I’m not a football person at all, but I’m a San Francisco Giants fan living in Los Angeles so I understand dealing with rivalries.

Okay, *laughs* yes. I don’t know, we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

Is there anything else you want to get out there to people? There’s a lot of overlap with RHAP and our much smaller site, but there are some people who aren’t as familiar might be thinking the same thing: “Ugh, Kelley, she was voted off early, she’s boring, there’s other people. We could just have Natalie Tenerelli come back for some reason.” What would you want to say to them?

What I think I want everyone to remember: An edit is an edit. I think you can think of other people in the past, even winners, who have not had a great edit. So you’ve heard me on podcasts, you follow me on Twitter, or maybe you don’t. (Editor’s note: We do.) But if you don’t, you should. I’m a colorful person, I’m not a bland and boring character. I’m ready to show my individual game. I have a lot more to give, you haven’t seen it. For me personally, I think that’s exciting because you’re going to get to see an old player and a new player all rolled into one. You know, watch my campaign video (see below)! That’s pretty much me, I’m just a huge dork. I just say it like it is. And please vote for me!

Okay, great! Thank you so much for taking the time to do this. I know I’m personally rooting for you and voting.

Thank you!

I’m pretty sure the boys are voting for you as well, at least I’ve been pushing for it.

They better be! Otherwise I’m coming after them. You can put that in there!

Yeah, when John isn’t busy pimping out Max and Shirin…

Right? What the heck! (Editor’s note: Emma is fired.)

Well, even Andy is like, “Come on, dude.”

I know! Come on, send a little love to some of us smaller people. (Editor’s note: You’re on my ballot, Kelley! And I vote nine times a day!)

So I’ll be Team Kelley for you at the Purple Rock Podcast.

Thank you, I do appreciate that. Please. If you do need to play my campaign video over the air and let them hear that, whatever works!

Well, we have like 50 email threads because we keep filling them up, so I’ll send that along. 

Awesome. Well, I really appreciate it. Thank you for taking the time too, it was really fun chatting.

Emma has somehow become our Official Kelley/Kelly correspondent (spoiler for tomorrow’s content). You can find her on Twitter @emmapurplerock. She is also fired for throwing her editor under the bus.